New Study Takes State-by-State Look at Human Toll of COVID

NBC Universal, Inc.

A new study looks at the human toll of COVID-19 and the dramatic differences from state-to-state regarding infections and deaths.

The study published in the Lancet finds Maryland ranked among the states with the lowest death rates from COVID-19 while D.C. ranked among the highest death rates from the virus. Virginia and West Virginia ranked among the top 20 states with lower COVID-19 death rates.

Researchers say the study is the most comprehensive state-by-state analysis yet. After factoring in a patient’s age and underlying illnesses, some states did four times better than others, and the paper took a closer look at what may be driving some of that variation.

“We found that states with higher rates of poverty, lower educational attainment and lower rates of interpersonal trust, which is the trust that we place in one another, were all states that exhibited higher death rates and higher infection rates,” said Emma Castro, a researcher for the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Researchers also found states that imposed more vaccine and mask mandates experienced lower infection rates, but those states also tended to have worse employment rates and had lower student test results.

“For me looking forward, I think one of the most important things is to recognize that we could have done better,” said Dr. Joseph Dieleman of IHME. “Some states are examples of what is possible in the United States, and some states reflect, essentially, kind of the worst-case scenarios.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded the study.


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